EDMOND—The Philadelphia Church of God Irish dance production Celtic Throne concluded its series of five shows in 10 days with its last two performances at Armstrong Auditorium in Edmond, Oklahoma, on July 5 and 7 for audiences of 442 and 467, plus hundreds of additional viewers online. The show premiered at the auditorium on June 28 and played in Branson, Missouri, on June 30 and July 1.
Celtic Throne traces the history of Irish dance, a form of which originated with King David in ancient Jerusalem and was carried with the descendants of the Kingdom of Israel across seas, islands, oceans and centuries through Ireland, Scotland, England and America. The name of the show and its story focus on God’s promise to David that He would preserve his ruling dynasty forever and would ultimately use it to establish His government on Earth with the return of Jesus Christ.
Using an Irish dance form modified to include arm movements, a variety of costumes, dramatic imagery and lighting effects and the music of composer Brian Byrne, the patriotic presentation highlighted the positive aspects of the cultures of the Israelites, the Irish, the Scots, the English and the Americans. It also portrayed the darker times (past and future) when God allowed their evils to bring them down, as in “Gale” in the first half and “Conflict” in the second half, numbers featuring alarming music, darkness pierced by flashing light, swirling white streamers, black costumes and pounding dance steps.
“We just wanted each number to be exciting, something new when the dancers pop out onstage,” costumer Deborah Heerma said. “The costumes really tell the story, as well.”
In a June 26 Bible study for Church members at the auditorium, minister and Celtic Throne director Brad Macdonald called the production “a giant monument to celebrate Israel,” a people God chose to work with in order to ultimately bring the whole world to Him, under His government and into His Family. (For the ancient and modern history of Israel, request a free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy.)
The heritage of America, and the related heritages of related nations, was not lost on hundreds of audience members from the community, who clapped along with several numbers and cheered loudly.
The show was conceived a couple of years ago and assembled well in advance of the recent socialist upheaval in America. Occurring around Independence Day weekend and amid the news of riots and desecrating the memories of great Americans, the five shows were even more poignant. A backdrop of Mt. Rushmore, for example, that would have otherwise been a nice touch became instead a standout image due to the recent controversy and the president’s July 3 speech there: It became a sight that drew especially pronounced cheers from the crowds.
Concertgoers gave standing ovations not only at the end of the show but also after numbers that celebrated America, including a vocal number blending “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Oklahoma!,” “America the Beautiful” and “My Country ’Tis of Thee.”
Throughout the show, the hundreds of audience members were loud, overtly patriotic and visibly appreciative of the performers. They even reacted to the efficiency of the stage crew as it set risers, a pair of Steinway pianos, an 80-pound harp and other set pieces.
Audience members had a lot to say. Patrons at the July 5 show called it “shock and awe,” “stunning, marvelous and stirring, all at the same time” and “phenomenal.” One said the performance “could not be any better.”
Prior to the July 7 finale, one family was overheard criticizing the pcg, which produced the show. But as Celtic Throne progressed, they were later seen and heard clapping along, cheering and making positive comments.
The origin of the positivity, aside from the flashing, pounding, sometimes-delicate-sometimes-powerful presentation of the story itself, was the striking sight of the performers’ expressions. Having been admonished in rehearsals to concentrate on their footwork yet to smile at the same time, the performers came out with huge smiles throughout the show.
Celtic Throne is a family affair: The Church family involved in the production includes 47 musicians and dancers representing 25 family names. Many of those on stage were parents, children, siblings or cousins to other performers, and all were friends.
“That’s what makes it so fun,” Celtic Throne producer Stephen Flurry said. “It just shows how much support that the dads have given to their children and their hobbies and their activities over the years, and to see it culminate … in this kind of production is really special.”
The July 7 show coincided with the opening night of Summer Educational Program, the Church’s summer youth camp. The crowd that night included 119 teenagers from the United States and Canada watching their friends and, in many cases, fellow campers, perform onstage in person. Campers said they were happy for their friends, and they were among the hundreds excitedly congratulating the musicians and dancers, still in costume, when they emerged from backstage after the final curtain to meet and chat with concertgoers in the lobby.
Celtic Throne has staged its last live event (for now), but producers and the Church’s technology staff are creating an album and video that will be available for sale on Spotify and iTunes as early as August.